by Mitchell Brannan
One of the most exciting parts of moving out of our apartment is that we finally own a flight of stairs (that are actually inside of the house). On the contrary, it also happens to be one of the most dangerous and scary parts while raising a curious and mobile Courtney. We did not give too much consideration to just how deeply she would share our fondness for these stairs, but we quickly found out. As soon as she laid eyes on the shiny wooden stairs on the side of our living room – glistening in the sunlight – she knew something wonderful and magical must be at the top just waiting for her to explore. Almost as soon as we moved in, we promptly made our first errand to the store to purchase a baby gate, as our make-shift blockades of moving boxes would not last long. When we came back and installed the gate, we had anticipated a serene and peaceful moment as we were liberated from the anxiety of Courtney falling down the stairs. However, to our dismay, our final click of the gate was met with a piercing and furious temper tantrum. She flopped herself on the floor, looked at us dead in the eyes, and screamed in anguish, as if to say “How on earth could you deprive me of somewhere I want to go that I am absolutely positive would make my life better and happier.” As a former baby, I can speak baby.
In June of 2020, Hannah and I were on a wonderful path with my graduation on the horizon and a secure job lined up in Atlanta. Both of us were longing to transition beyond the transient lifestyle of college life, and were ready to begin laying down roots in the North Druid Hills area. It all seemed to be going according to plan, until the lockdowns hit. Like many industries, my future employer had to adjust and downsize a great deal in order to stay afloat. Things seemed uncertain, but I was assured by my manager that my full time position would remain in the cards as long as I continued on my path to graduation. But in November of 2020, 6 months before my graduation, I received a disquieting phone call. My whole department, along with my job, had been dissolved. I now had approximately 6 months to find a job before graduation, and Courtney was just days away from being born. While I would love to sit here and tell you I handled the situation as Jesus would and put my complete and utter dependence on Him, trusting in his providence, there was an honest part of my heart that sincerely doubted God’s decision. It was saying to Him, “I was so sure this was the best route for our family, God. We have a church, a community, prospective houses / neighborhoods, and a “secure” job. How could you possibly see it best to deprive us of this path?!”
This sinful part of my heart was exposed for only a moment, until God graciously provided us with a new job, a new community, a new home, and a new (City) church in Lawrenceville! To which my fickle heart went happily back to trusting God’s plans again, leaving my doubts and frustrations with God behind me. No more than one year later, when I saw Courtney’s eyes (as she wailed at me in disbelief) and my explanations of “We are doing this because we love you,” and “this is for your own safety,” did nothing to de-escalate the situation… God whispered to me and said, “is this not how your heart reacted to Me, when I put a gate in your path?” Though I may not have expressed my frustrations externally the same way Courtney did, she was a mirror image of my heart in that moment, nonetheless. This has become a routine pattern God has implemented for the sanctification of both myself and Hannah, where God has allowed us, through parenting, to humbly experience a small sample of what it is like for our Heavenly Father to “parent” us.
Proverbs 16:9 “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”